Passing an open house sign for a place there’s no chance in hell I could ever afford, I notice an empty cigarette pack stomped into the road alongside of me. Marlboros. Their once crisp silver and white box now smudged rough with the stains of gravel and dirt and left behind. I do not understand people who litter. It’s so ignorant and filthy. Also, and at the moment a more pressing concern to me, I would just about kill for a cigarette right now, dirt and filth be damned.
When I open the door to the coffee shop, I notice three men standing talking in a huddle, as one by one they look at me. I can’t tell what they are talking about but I can feel how their conversation slows and I hate that feeling. You never know if it’s gonna get worse for you and increasingly, obnoxiously entertaining for them. Sometimes being a woman in this fucked up world feels like random humiliation for no reason at all except that you can suddenly find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time whenever you least expect it. Mercifully, the service in this place is swift and it takes no time at all to grab my tall dark roast, drop a few dollars in the tip jar, and move the hell on.
The coffee is strong, black, and delicious. The sunlight bathes my bare shoulders in a hazy warmth. For a minute I could swear I smell the beach, though it’s a good hour and a half from this little city. Perhaps it’s just my coconut shampoo, ruffled through the breeze. Walking usually clears my head but lately I have been in another zone altogether up there. As the voices of those around me grow ever more manic, I find myself retreating more and more into my own skin, thirsty for the beating sound of my own heart. It can be so hard to hear yourself think when even thinking at all as a worthwhile activity seems to be on its way out of town.
Trash the land, poison the sea, burn this place to the ground which was never meant to withstand such cruel abuse. As I pass a tall store window, I glance at my reflection and pull my hair back off my face. They are selling clothes for the fall already and I salivate over a pair of chunky boots they’ve paired with some light blue torn-up jeans. The classics are new again which we’ve known all along but it’s fun to be sold to on occasion in any case.
The occasion being the world is sure to end sooner than we’d like. We are hurtling through space whilst we waste our time with money and power and distract ourselves with booze and sex and poetry. I feel sorry for the lot of us, and yet somewhere deep down in my broken forlorn heart, I love some of us so bad it could shatter me into bits.
Some old woman is walking a shaggy little scruffy dog whose fur looks like it should be white if it weren’t for all the dust and grim collecting into its underbelly. It takes a leak on a helpless sapling and attempts to get into it with a much larger, tougher looking dog who is drinking from the water dish outside the hipster woodworker studio. The big dog just stares at the little one until it passes, hustling the old woman along on a leash behind it.
As I drain the last of my coffee, my mind drifts up into the clouded thoughts which collect above most of my days and turn them gray. Every breath is precious and yet we are constantly dragged away from what matters most. And they call you, call on you, call for you. and you try to pretend you do not exist. Try to reach out past where they expect you to be and pull yourself into the black dark cloud of oblivion.
What is it about the void which you think will comfort you, why would you ever think it would be easier to exist alone in a field of lavender and butterflies. Alone in your own hands, with your own feet treading upon the earth which is frightened of your every tiny step.
In the heavy heat of afternoon, I stop to watch a little stream which runs underneath the highway and into the shaded woods. A browned crumpled leaf falls into the water and is quickly swirled away by the current, rushing from the recent rains. Seasons change. There is still movement in the natural world. There are still the laws of the universe happening inside and all around us all the time. All the ways into and out of ourselves, somehow absurd and still evident. We write and we speak and we fill the silence with endless chatter, and yet so few of us feel the least bit understood.